WASHINGTON -- Two Marine Corps officers in the jury pool for the sexual misconduct military trial of a former Naval Academy football player said yesterday that they believe the school's superintendent wants a guilty verdict in the case.
"I think he's already made up his mind," said one officer, who added that he suspected Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt had brought charges to make an example out of Kenny Ray Morrison, 24.
After declaring that his perception would not influence him as a juror, the officer was added to the panel. The second Marine was dismissed.
Completed after three days of selection, the jury includes six men and one woman. Opening statements are scheduled for this morning.
A Kingwood, Texas, native and former backup linebacker, Morrison stands accused of two counts of indecent assault and conduct unbecoming an officer. He is alleged to have had nonconsensual sex with one woman during a rowdy party in a Georgetown hotel in February 2006 and with a second at an Annapolis home in April 2006.
Morrison's case has been largely overshadowed by that of former quarterback Lamar S. Owens Jr., who was acquitted in July of raping a female classmate but was recently recommended for expulsion by Rempt. The Navy secretary has not made a final determination on Owens' expulsion.
William Ferris, Morrison's civilian attorney, sharply criticized the way jurors were selected, saying that 28 of the 30 officers Rempt brought in for screening were senior-level, a composition that does not reflect the population of officers at the academy.
Ferris said that in his experience, about 400 officers are stationed at the academy at any one time, and that about half are junior officers.
"It has the appearance of being deliberate, and if there is a selection designed not to be a representative sample, that's illegal," he said, hinting that it could be grounds for an appeal.
The military judge, Col. Stephen Day, asked if he had any proof, to which Ferris replied that he did not.
Lt. Cmdr. Colin Kisor, the lead military prosecutor in the case, said there was "not a shred of evidence" that Rempt "has in any way endeavored to stack this panel." firstname.lastname@example.org